Finishing fourth in the Premier League has just become even more valuable.
UEFA have rubber-stamped proposals that would see the top-flight team finishing in that position go straight into the Champions League group stage.
Previously, any team that came fourth in England, Spain, Italy and Germany had to negotiate a play-off to enter the Champions League proper.
However, the restructure means that ahead of the 2018/19 season this will be scrapped, with the top four guaranteed entry into the premier club competition.
The tournament will also now have two new kick-off times, with the traditional 7.45pm kick off being replaced by 5.55pm and 8pm.
The news will come as a boost to teams who finish fourth, knowing that they will have a spot in the group stages, reports the Liverpool Echo.
Winning the Champions League – or Europa League – will also guarantee entry into the last 32.
However, if two teams who finish outside England’s top four win those two competitions, then the fourth-placed team would drop into the Europa League.
The rules for automatic qualification read:
- There will now be 26 teams automatically qualified.
For 2018/19 they will be…
- UEFA Champions League holders (1)
- UEFA Europa League holders (1)
- Top four from associations ranked 1st to 4th: Spain, Germany, England, Italy (16)
- Top two from associations ranked 5th and 6th: France, Russia (4)
- Champions of associations ranked 7th to 10th: Portugal, Ukraine, Belgium, Turkey (4)
There will also be six other qualifiers – four champions of their domestic league, two ‘non-champions’ – to make up the group stages.
The teams who finish fifth and sixth in the Premier League are also guaranteed a spot in the Europa League group stages.
The 2019 Champions League final will be played in Madrid, Spain, on June 1.
Tottenham are currently sitting in fourth place, seven points ahead of Chelsea with five games left in the season.
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